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#1 fctoma

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 11:56 AM

Hi all of you!

I am trying to slowly start designing webs on the side. I have a few clients lined up and am looking for some type of "bid proposal" type of form to send them. They sent me an email asking for a proposal on their new site.

Can anyone help me out? I'm new at this and do not have any type of guide to figure out how to put together the various types of forms.../ contracts. Also, do any of you know where to find an example of a simple for to send out as a "questionnaire"??? Something to send out to the client asking basic questions....

Kind regards

#2 invader

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 01:58 PM

Not much idea about forms/contracts.
Here are some things you must work with the client to determine:

Navigation Structure:

- Determination of Structure (Linear, Hierarchical, Webbed)
- Conform to web standards
- User conforms to the overall vision
- High on Usability
- Defining Content Visibility: Internal/External
- Determination of Accessibility Features
(http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/)
- Minimal number of mouse clicks for navigation
Optimal: 3. Maximum: 6
- Naming of URLs, Appropriate size

Content Guidelines:

- Hypertext Linking
- Short Paragraphs
- Short Pages
- Optimal Font Size (10-12pt)
- Labelled Links

#3 Respree

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 02:33 PM

In the simplist of terms, a contract is a written document, entered into by two or more parties, that outline the terms and conditions under which business will be conducted.

What will you do? What won't you do? How and when will you be paid? When will you deliver? What happens if you don't deliver as promised, how will a remedy be sought? All pretty basic and common sense questions that need to be addressed and understood just before two parties shake hands.

Here are some basic concepts that a contract should cover.
http://www.poznaklaw.../contracts2.htm

Here are some sample contracts for a design firm. Perhaps some of our professional SEO's may wish to jump in to add what issues they address in their contracts.

http://www.wilsonweb...eet/pkg-con.htm

http://www.sheppardw...m/contract.html

#4 Tim

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 03:59 PM

I've found that it's much better talking to a prospective client face to face than sending out a questionnaire. It works for some people, yes, but I've found that a lot of clients get bored filling in the information, and then go elsewhere because they didn't feel they could get information from me as easily.

So, what I did was cancelled out the questionnaire, and now I just meet face to face with every prospect (first meeting is free) and ask them the questions myself. I ask most of the questions that were in the questionnaire anyway, but because I'm doing the asking and not just shoving a piece of paper in their face, it gives the impression that I'm more serious about gaining their business because I'm putting more work into them. It also means they can ask for clarification on the spot if they don't understand a question.

As for contracts, maybe you could ask your few clients lined up what they would want to be assured of before they signed on the dotted line (depending on your relationship with them - it may be unprofessional to ask them). But generally you need to make them aware of how much they owe you and when they will owe you, and what's their responsibility and what's yours - and that if they ask for more later down the track, you'll charge for it. Basic stuff like that to make sure that you don't get caught out, and to make them feel comfortable giving you money.

I usually ask for 50% before a job, and 50% on completion. Others ask for 25%, then invoice regularly during the job. Do whatever works best for you, your client, and the amount involved.

Hope that helps with some food for thought. Any more questions, ask away!

#5 invader

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 11:51 PM

I just meet face to face with every prospect (first meeting is free) and ask them the questions myself.


That also helps in clearing any doubts straight away.
Writing on paper can be misleading, at times.

#6 Respree

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 11:58 PM

Of course, it's always important to talk face to face in order to provide a clear understanding and communicate requirements and expectation. However, in the unlikely event that push ever comes to shove, it will be what is in writing that will (legally) determine the outcome, regardless of what the other party 'thought' the agreement was.

Protect yourself at all times.

#7 Tim

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 12:19 AM

Garrick - yes, totally agreed. Sorry, I should have clarified that I was answering the question about the questionnaire, rather than the contracts. Of course, contracts need to be in writing. But IMOAE (in my opinion and experience - just made that up then :D) face-to-face is better for the inital discussions (but take notes, so you don't forget what was said :D).

#8 BillSlawski

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 01:21 AM

There are a number of different documents here that we are talking about. It might be easy to mix them up if we aren't careful, but we have a few different answers above describing some of them.

I think these are the different ones we are talking about:

1. A document that generally explains services offered, prices, and the company offering those services
2. A questionnaire that helps define the design that they want for their site.
3. a contract that legally binds both sides.

I'm a big fan of the approach that the 37signals folks use on this page for that first type of document:

http://www.37signals.com/design.php

And it's worth taking a look at their document linked to at the bottom of that page:

"Why Should I Hire 37signals?" (PDF, 46K) to learn why we're the smart choice.

For the second type, a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting can be a good way to make sure that everyone is on the same page. But, there are a lot of things that can be involved in the design of a site, and a document can be helpful.

For the contract, Garrick's links look like pretty good ones for after some type of agreement is made after a discussion on business objectives, design objectives, and project and process management.


An SEO questionaire is going to define such things as how terms to optimize for will be chosen, how many terms, how many pages will be optimized, whether pages or content will need to be created, whether there will be some type of linking campaign and submission of links to directories, search engines, and other sites, if navigation of the site will be altered, including such things as the use of a site map and the changing of the coding of a site.

It will also explain the expertise of the company, engage in a little educational efforts, explain pricing, and work to start a conversation to come the signing of a contract.

#9 travis

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 12:58 PM

Here are 10 tips for making a website project work.

(a) Only design sites for businesses with a physical address.

(B) Try and get some professional photography in the contract.

© Ask for an upfront payment.

(d) Dont upload anything to the actual domain until after final payment.

(e) Talk in terms of business marketing rather than techno-jargon.

(f) Once a week/fortnight, have face to face progress meetings.

(g) Dont talk about other clients.

(h) Ask what name appears at the bottom of the cheques and write the contract to that name.

(i) Dont let the clients' IT staff touch the database or code until after final payment.

(j) Put yourself in the shoes of the client, and try and see what their challenges are in business.

Its not rocket science, and remember the golden rule with contracts. They are only necessary if the s$#%& hits the fan.

In your communication, keep re-iterating the same clear simple path to completion, with specific and agreed results and timelines.

#10 invader

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 02:30 PM

(g) Dont talk about other clients.


I have been the victim of that.
Can't explain on a public forum, but very important point.

#11 AbleReach

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 11:29 PM

(j) Put yourself in the shoes of the client, and try and see what their challenges are in business.

Here I would start with a questionnaire, before even bringing out the possibility of signing a contract.

When reading the following bear in mind that I am working with teeny tiny businesses and don't have to keep the IT department out of a database :-) AND, I think that no matter where you go a client will be encouraged by showing what they've already accomplished - for example any pre-existing print material, to be delivered later in digital format if they'd like to avoid a transcription fee.

--Brochures, press kit if they have it, bio or company description...
--policies (returns, breakage, guarantees, privacy, whatever.)
--catalog or services described, market targeting thoughts
--ditto re professional photos or graphics of any sort - try to get a look at where they are and where they want to go

If they can't describe themselves succinctly or have no set policies, think carefully before "hiring" them as a client. Making a site for a company like that may involve a lot of wrangling about details, only to change completely with every clueless whim. They may not be ready for a web site as much as they are ready to work up a business plan that will include developing a site.

Clueless whim example - I laboriously (labor = mostly decoding client) completed a 20 page ecommerce starter site done on spec (spec work never, ever, ever again!!) color coordinated with specifically requested custom-made graphical buttons in picky-picky colors and titled with researched, niche-oriented keywords. Ready to go, awaiting mainly images, shipping policy and most of her text. Suddenly owner sees a shiny gold logo and completely different style elsewhere and says "I want everything to look like that, and do we really need to bother with writing anything? A page of pictures of what I am selling would work fine. I like what you've done but it's all window dressing and I frankly can't see the reason for all that when I am so busy just trying to make ends meet..."
:mad:
I slept on it, then emailed something like - "I know you're busy making a living from this right now. Do you want to take a break from the web site and get back to me when you've had a chance to firm up what you want? At that time we can take care of the official side, too - so far we don't even have a signed contract or payment agreement." She was delighted to "take a break." Never heard from her again. ;) ::whew!::

Her business domain now contains pictures of a family vacation. I am grateful for lessons learned, and busy elsewhere.

Elizabeth

#12 bwelford

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 04:42 AM

Another great post, Elizabeth. :claphands:

It's the old [product-driven] versus [customer-centric] dimension that so many businesses of all sizes get wrong. Your business is only defined by how potential customers see it. You can of course decide to be an artist and be true to yourself (product-driven). That may or may not allow you to eat. ;)

#13 AbleReach

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 03:46 PM

Thanks :oops: :D (blushing grin)
And at the risk of dragging this thread off-topic -

You can of course decide to be an artist and be true to yourself (product-driven). That may or may not allow you to eat

Remember the uproar over changing what is now "Classic" Coca Cola?

If they had put more into "pre-contract" thought, they'd have saved themselves a major headache. On the other hand, the press exposure was huge, and we got Cherry Coke at the same time. ;-)

Mega brands can afford to turn around (use?) this kind of negative publicity.
Smaller companies can't.
Both are, at the root, somewhere between being in partnership with their customers and being customer-centric.

Elizabeth

#14 ExtraB

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 12:26 AM

I would recommend you set up a meeting with your client either on the phone or in person and ask a lot of open questions so you get a good understanding of the company, their target market, and goals and objectives. Let them do most of the talking.

Once you get enough information you will be able to write a winning proposal. Writing a proposal has helped me land more customers.

You might want to take a look at some type of proposal software to help out. I use Proposal Kit myself. You can find out more about this product here
http://www.aj2000.com/porposalkit.htm This is a review of the product.

All the best
Eric B

#15 bwelford

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 04:59 AM

Welcome to the Forums, ExtraB. :wave:

You've hit the nail on the head. Of course it may be tough to get the client to see you before seeing something written, but this should be your challenge. Don't give up too easily on that first meeting. If they won't even meet you, will they take your proposal seriously? A proposal is easy for them to ask for and involves you in a lot of work. So it's so much better to use that same time meeting them.

Once you've got that first meeting, then you're selling the idea of working with you as you talk with them. They'll in many cases decide whether they want to work with you just by how that initial discussion goes. So you may almost have a deal. The proposal just becomes the written confirmation of what you and the client decided jointly should be done.

#16 davidinnotts

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 11:33 AM

Can I chip in here? I did an outline site on spec. for a friend. All approved, awaiting photo opp. to add factory images and products.

Then friend got a cash-flow problem...

He's still a friend, but never again!

David

#17 TheBoonog

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 01:06 PM

Here’s my methodology:

First I have an in-depth free consultation with the client to get an understanding of what type of site is wanted. I take that information to create a Services Agreement that CLEARLY STATES: a) high-level services to be rendered; B) a second signature document with detailed requirements will be created before development begins; c) code ownership and any licensing requirements and/or fees; d) quote for services; e) payment procedures; and f) all deliverables for the project.

If something is not agreeable or clear to the client, I re-do it until we are in agreement and the document is signed. Then I work with the client to create and maintain a Business Requirements document (I usually include this as a billable expense in the Services Agreement).

A well-defined and signed Business Requirements document is a great defense in preventing scope creep. And the process itself helps me get a solid understanding of the client’s vision up front.

Areas in the Business Requirements might include:

Assumptions and dependencies
Design parameters (screen resolution, usability, accessibility, browser compatibility)
Content properties (who will provide content and in what format)
Site layout (categories, specific pages to be built)
Terms of Use and Privacy Policies (are these needed and who will provide content)
Licensing requirements
Copyright issues
Testing requirements

After the Business Requirements document is signed, it is versioned as 1.0. If the client decides halfway through the project he or she wants changes that affect the scope, having this signed document gives me leverage to add additional billable hours to the project if necessary. I then update the document with the new requirements, re-version it, and the client and I sign again.

Sounds like a lot of work, I know, and it is. But it saves a ton of time and frustration as the project gets underway.

#18 sanity

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 04:43 PM

(f) Once a week/fortnight, have face to face progress meetings.

Not always an option if you're dealing with clients all over the world like I am. Regular contact is imperative whether it be in person, by phone or email.

Welcome to Cre8asite TheBoonog & davidinnotts :wave:

#19 travis

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 02:34 AM

Sophie,

You will have to use those frequent flyer points more often then. Just jokes. The phone is probably more important for your particular situation, if not essential.

My question if for the Boonog. What do you charge the client for the Business Requirements document ? and what typically do you write in the section on code ownership ?

Some of my best clients came to me after being scared off by pre-scoping studies and documentation from other larger design houses.

Although I like your idea of a Business Requirements Document (let me just pencil that one in to our policies and procedures from now on) I think charging for it may scare off some people, so thats why I ask. I would just absorb it into the overall cost.

If our customers start to scope creep, we offer another external supplier to look after that area.

We define our services in very isloated areas. ASP/Access Database/SQL Server development and Graphic Design.

So customers do it all the time. "Travis can you just do this little job .......and do that... I know it wasnt in the contract, and I sooo sorry we did not pay your invoice yet and its 6 weeks overdue, but you seem like such a nice guy and I just thought I would ask ? "

If it lies outside the core services, we say "Our friendly external contractor, Nitrogen Interactive, in Melbourne would be more than happy to give you a quote once she returns from her overseas meetings."

And the customer will say "Well how much will that cost ? Oh really. 5 cents. Oh. OK, Let me just check with the boss...15 second pause..... I just spoke to the boss, and we did not need really want that done after all. And he has just left in his $320.000 SLK Compressor Mercedes and he is not happy. We are not made of money, you know."

Anyway, thats our defence against scope creep. It works a treat.

#20 sanity

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 06:59 PM

> scope creep

Interesting strategy Travis. :)

I never provide "quotes" I provide "estimates" that spell out that it is an estimate based on the information provided at the time and if the requirements change so to will the estimate. Then for all the additional "little jobs" I send off an estimated cost which is either accepted or not done.

Must dash - going os. ;)



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